President Clinton and Vice President Gore:
Expanding Trade and Ensuring a Healthy Environment
November 16, 1999
President Clinton and Vice President Gore today outlined a strategy to
ensure that U.S. and international efforts to expand trade are
consistent with a high level of environmental protection worldwide and
serve the broader goal of sustainable development. In his State of the
Union Address earlier this year, the President urged creation of a new
American consensus on trade, built in part on an effort to "level up"
environmental protections as international trade and investment rules
are liberalized. The policy initiatives announced today will help
further this goal by systematically integrating environmental
considerations into the development of US trade policy, staking out US
policy positions on key environmental issues before the World Trade
Organization, and supporting complementary steps to improve
international environmental practices and standards, including the
provision of technical and financial assistance to help developing
countries design and implement strong domestic environmental
The U.S. and the WTO: Putting a Human Face on the Global Economy. As
part of his agenda for the new round of global trade negotiations set to
be launched in Seattle, Washington later this month, the President has
proposed broadening participation in the benefits of trade among and
within nations in part by addressing key environmental and labor
concerns. Today, the President elaborated on the environmental aspects
of his appeal for a human face to be put on the global economy by:
Signing an Executive Order to Require Environmental Reviews of
Proposed Trade Agreements. The President today signed an Executive
Order requiring careful assessment and consideration of the
environmental impacts of trade agreements, including through detailed
written reviews of major, environmentally significant trade agreements.
The Executive Order for the first time formally institutionalizes
procedures to ensure the timely consideration of environmental issues in
the development of U.S. positions for trade negotiations. It represents
a major development in the effort to integrate and balance the twin U.S.
objectives of promoting economic growth through expanded trade and
sustainable development through strong domestic environmental
protections. Specifically, the Executive Order:
Requires written environmental reviews of comprehensive multilateral
trade rounds, bilateral or plurilateral free trade agreements, major
trade liberalization agreements in natural resource sectors, and other
agreements that may have significant, reasonably foreseeable
Requires that reviews be undertaken early enough in the process to
help shape negotiating positions.
Requires public notice when a review begins; opportunity for input
from outside experts and the public; and public release of the findings.
Requires that reviews focus primarily on environmental impacts in
the United States and, as appropriate, also examine international and
Directs the United States Trade Representative and Chair of the
White House Council on Environmental Quality to oversee implementation
of the Order in consultation with economic, environmental and foreign
Issuing a White House Declaration of Environmental Trade Policy
Principles to Guide U.S. Negotiators and Ensure That the Work of the
WTO Is Supportive of Sustainable Development. The WTO Charter
explicitly recognizes sustainable development as a fundamental goal.
The President today issued a White House Policy Declaration on
Environment and Trade outlining a set of principles to guide U.S.
negotiators' efforts to ensure that the WTO fulfills this part of its
mission. In particular, the Policy Declaration pledges the United
States to pursue trade liberalization in the new round of trade
negotiations in a manner that is supportive of our
commitment to high levels of protection for the environment by:
Promoting reform of the WTO, notably its dispute settlement
procedures, to improve their transparency and openness to public
Strengthening cooperation between the WTO and other international
organizations, particularly the United Nations Environment Program, with
respect to environmental matters.
Identifying and pursuing "win-win" opportunities where opening
markets and reducing or eliminating trade distortions can yield direct
environmental benefits, such as by reducing fish and agricultural
Stating the U.S. view that the WTO broadly accommodates trade
measures included in multilateral environmental agreements when they are
carefully tailored and appropriately applied, such as in the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Montreal Protocol
with respect to ozone-depleting chemicals.
Ensuring that trade rules are supportive of and do not undermine our
ability to maintain and enforce fully our environmental laws by
staking out U.S. positions on issues such as the WTO's deference to
national regulatory authorities, WTO members' rights to determine
whether to accept another member's regulations as equivalent to its
own, trade measures based on processes and production methods (PPMs),
Ecolabeling, and Precaution.
Ensuring the appropriate inclusion on U.S. trade negotiation teams
of environmental, health and safety officials, and encouraging our
trading partners to do likewise.
Taking fully into account environmental implications throughout the
course of the negotiations, including by performing a written
environmental review of the new WTO round.
Promoting Improved Environmental Practices in Developing Countries
Through Technical Assistance to Strengthen Their Environmental
Institutions. The Administration today released a survey of U.S.
Government environmental capacity-building efforts in developing
countries, underscoring its commitment to the pursuit of sustainable
development and high levels of global environmental protection,
including through means extending beyond trade policy. The United
States is working actively to ensure that developing countries have
the capacity to address environmental management issues as they
integrate into the world economy. We believe the absence of
environmental regulatory and management capacity can undermine
long-term economic development and threaten ecological systems
essential to sustainable development, thereby limiting the contribution
to broad living standards from expanded trade and economic growth.
U.S. capacity building activities involve several agencies, including
the U.S. Agency for International Development, Agriculture Department,
Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, Justice Department,
Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, and the Department of Energy. They fall into three
Promoting integrated policies in developing countries to protect the
environment while raising social and economic standards:
Integrating economic, social, and environmental objectives into a
mutually supportive policy framework.
Strengthening legal, regulatory, and judicial policies and
procedures as they relate to environmental management.
Promoting environmentally sustainable international trade and
Building institutional capacity in natural resources management and
Enhancing the ability of countries to understand, participate in,
and implement the provisions of international institutional frameworks,
such as multilateral environmental arrangements and international trade
Improving the environmental performance of international financial
institutions and export credit agencies.
Assessing and addressing environmental impacts of trade and
Enhancing stakeholder understanding of and participation in the
identification and resolution of trade, investment, and environmental
Promoting transparent and open decision-making processes and
strengthening of the capacity of all segments of civil society to
participate in a meaningful way in decisions that affect their lives.
Providing International Leadership on the Environment. Americans
today enjoy the strongest economy and cleanest environment in a
generation, and the Clinton Administration is working with the
international community to promote the same objectives around the globe.
The United States has played a critical role in international
efforts -- through multilateral environmental treaties and other
means -- to protect endangered species, phase out highly toxic
chemicals, restore fisheries, and address global warming. In addition,
the United States has applied the highest environmental standards to
its overseas lending and development assistance; promoted similar
efforts at the World Bank and other multilateral institutions; and led
efforts to build environmental safeguards into trade pacts like the
North America Free Trade Agreement.